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Billy Summers: ‘Giant Slayer’ adds adventure to fairy tale

Mar. 10, 2013 @ 09:21 PM

Director Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects,” “Valkyrie,” “X-Men”) manages to take an old fairy tale and make it into a pretty nice little action adventure.

Nicholas Hoult (“About a Boy,” “Warm Bodies,” “Skins”), who I liked so well in last month’s “Warm Bodies,” stars as Jack, and what I wished for several weeks ago has come true. In this movie he is able to blossom. He is not Oscar worthy, by any means (at least, not yet), but in this film he makes for a likable hero who does it all for the girl (naturally).

And, the girl is the lovely Eleanor Tomlinson (“The Illusionist,” “Alice in Wonderland”). She stars as Princess Isabelle, with just enough moxy to make her a future ruler, and just enough frailty to make her a princess in distress. She reminded me a lot of the animated “Brave” heroine, Merida, minus the bow and arrow and the beautiful auburn locks.

Her daddy, King Brahmwell, played by Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” “Lovejoy,” “We Are Marshall”) shows up as a practical monarch, not immune to the traditional “single parent of a teenager” problems.

Add to this, a couple of second tier (almost first tier) performances by Ewan McGregor (“Big Fish,” “Star Wars” movies, “I Love You Phillip Morris”) as Elmont, Numero Uno Knight of the Realm, and the always-excellent Stanley Tucci (“The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Hunger Games,” “Wiseguy”) as the evil suitor, Roderick, and you have enough wonderful players to fill a… kingdom!

This cast would be able to lift even an ordinary story to a higher level, but Singer has made a better-than-ordinary movie out of an age-old fable.

With CGI effects that are very good, 3-D imagery that is not over-the-top and dialogue that is entertaining, without being overbearing, the director has given us a story that is loaded with action, a few moral dilemmas and quite a bit of humor.

The giants in this film have more character than most non-humans, and the charm of King Brahmwell’s court, as well as McGregor’s pompous likability, make for a beautiful combination that more than meets the requirements for a family friendly movie well worth watching.

The giants are as much fun to watch as the humans, with character traits beyond what you would expect in a movie where the bad guys are monsters — cartoon monsters, at that!

From the giant baker with no health code, to the rebellious one with the Charles Bronson demeanor, they all make fun of, well…Monsterdom.

Meanwhile, the romance between Jack and Isabelle is pretty standard, with an enamored hero pitted against a headstrong female who loves his clumsiness and innocence.

Even though the story ends (almost) with your average, everyday “Good Guys Win, Bad Guys Lose” finish, it is still a wonderful ride through a rather mild fairy tale that you remember from your childhood.

And, the tiny twist at the end is a fun surprise…

But, you’ll have to go see it to know why.

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.